There is currently one Republican announced for Comptroller in the State of Maryland, Brendan Madigan. Madigan currently is the only one willing to challenge Franchot for the least glamorous of the three elected State offices. Madigan was willing to give me his first formal interview as a candidate.
Matthew Newman: What made you decide to run for Comptroller?
Brendan Madigan: As a political activist, I have watched our elected officials in Annapolis, Democrats and Republicans, implement policies that inhibit the economic growth of Maryland. As Comptroller, I am going to stand up against and expose those who choose to support these policies simply for political gain.
MRN: As a political outsider, I do not know much about your background. Tell me about your experiences and how you feel that would apply to the position of Comptroller?
BM: Prior to launching my campaign for Comptroller, I served as the Founder and Executive editor of the conservative blog GOP Resurgence. During this time, I was also very involved and vocal on local political issues, most notably speed cameras. Prior to this, I held the position of Baltimore County Coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty. In my various political activities, I have had the opportunity to listen to Marylanders and learn what issues matter most to them. This is something that I think very few other elected officials can claim. Furthermore, I have submitted testimony to the Maryland General Assembly in my various endeavors, which has allowed me to learn the particulars of how Annapolis works.
MRN: What do you feel is the most important issue facing the State of Maryland?
BM: There is no question that the biggest issue facing the State of Maryland is the tax burden. According to the Tax Foundation, Maryland currently has the fourth largest tax burden of all fifty states. If the tax burden remains high, the future economic growth and stability of the State will be threatened. We need to reward hard-working Marylanders, not punish them.
MRN: What is your thought on our incumbent Comptroller, Peter Franchot?
BM: I respect Comptroller Franchot for being somewhat of an independent voice in Annapolis; however, I have a number of ideological differences with him, most notably on the issue of tax enforcement. To create a business-friendly environment in Maryland, and enhance the State’s economic growth, the Comptroller must be consistent in his/her enforcement of taxes. One example of Comptroller Franchot’s failure to be consistent in tax enforcement that comes to mind is when he attempted to start enforcing a tax on soda fountains that dates back to 1916. In the middle of a recession, we cannot have a Comptroller who is inconsistent in which tax laws he/she enforces, especially when the taxes affect small businesses.
MRN: Who would you say is your political role model?
BM: If I had to pick one person, I would say that Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) is my political role model. Governor Perry is an honest politician who is not embedded with the Republican establishment as so many of the so-called Republicans are today. Furthermore, he has implemented policies that have allowed his State’s economy to enjoy great success (in comparison to other states) during the recession.
MRN: What do you feel is included in Comptroller’s Constitutional role to exercise the “…general superintendence of the fiscal affairs of the State?”
BM: I would consider myself to be a pretty strict Constitutionalist in regard to both the Maryland Constitution and United States Constitution. To avoid getting into specifics, I would say that the current powers exercised by Comptroller Franchot are, in general, the same as those that I believe are included in that statement and would exercise as Comptroller.
MRN: On your official website, you mention that you want to “Decrease the Tax Burden on Hard-Working Marylanders.” How would you use your role, if elected as Comptroller, to help lessen the tax burden of the people of Maryland?
BM: The Comptroller essentially has two sets of powers: Constitutional powers and inherent powers. One of the inherent powers of the Comptroller is influencing tax policy. As Comptroller, I will place strong pressure on the Governor and General Assembly to decrease the tax burden on hard-working Marylanders and Maryland businesses.
MRN: What is your opinion of the “Tax Fairness Initiative” implemented by Franchot / O’Malley in 2008?
BM: In principle, I agree with the “Tax Fairness Initiative” (especially on upgrading the State’s tax collection technology); however, I do have some concerns about it. One of my biggest concerns regarding the program is, as I stated above, inconsistent enforcement. The Comptroller’s office should not be deciding all the sudden to enforce certain tax laws that have not been enforced for a number of years. I am not making that accusation that this practice is taking place, but I heard from a number of Marylanders that have concerns about this. It is very important for the Comptroller to ensure that Maryland has a reputation as being business-friendly. Another concern that I have in regard to the “Tax Fairness Initiative” is the increase in audits that it calls for. While ensuring that tax laws are being enforced needs to be a top priority of the comptroller, he/she, at the same time, must ensure that they do not violate the privacy of Marylanders and/or lose the their trust in tax-related matters.
MRN: If elected, how would you invest the state pension fund?
BM: While the Comptroller does not directly decide how to invest the state pension fund, he/she certainly has a great deal of influence over how these funds are invested. At this time, I do not want to name any specific industries/ways that I would/would not support the fund being invested, but I will say, on a more general level, that the funds should be invested in a diversified way that promotes the economic growth of the State.
MRN: What do you feel the role of new media will be on the 2010 election cycle?
BM: As we saw in the 2008 Presidential election, new media has become an extremely powerful force in politics. I feel that new media will play a significant role in the 2010 election cycle, especially here in Maryland where the broadcast media and print media carry a significant bias and offer limited coverage of State politics. Realizing the important role of the new media in the 2010 election cycle, I made the decision to conduct my first interview with this blog.
I thank Mr. Madigan for his open answers to my questions. As a former New Yorker, I’m not as fully aware of what the office of Comptroller does. In addition to his great answers, he provided some much needed understanding on the office. Again, I thank him for his time.
Cross-posted to Old Line Elephant